Magazine posts category: Reference


Seattle Fire Department tests Swiss Tunnel Firefighting Procedure

The Seattle Fire Department is currently creating its own tunnel operations procedure to address a variety of road, rail and metro tunnels and the challenges they present to responders. Operational planners had already informed themselves at the International Fire Academy in 2016. At the end of 2022, 14 North American fire service colleagues came to Balsthal to gain practical experience with our operational procedures and get ideas for their further development work. In the process, the Swiss…

Fire attack in a training tunnel with two burning lorries
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From the major fire in the Gotthard Road Tunnel in 2001 to deployment confidence in tunnel fires

After the major fires in road tunnels in 1999, the prevailing opinion was that fire services could do little about tunnel fires. Today, most fire services consider themselves well equipped for this task. Urs Kummer, CEO of the International Fire Academy, and Christian Brauner, head of the Didactics and Development Team, trace the development since 2001.


Include fire services in the planning of new tunnels at an early stage

For each tunnel, both location-specific and facility-specific preparation for operations is required, which must be developed together with the carrier and, if necessary, the builder of the tunnel. The earlier this is started, the greater the chance of creating good working conditions for the fire services, improving safety and avoiding unnecessary costs.


When fire services get a tunnel - the case study of the Scheibengipfeltunnel Reutlingen

Within a very short time, the Fire Service Reutlingen had to prepare itself to provide rescue services for the construction phase of Scheibengipfel Tunnel in Reutlingen. The International Fire Academy supported the fire service by giving its officers the opportunity to quickly familiarise themselves with the special conditions of underground transport systems and practically test their tactics and techniques under operational conditions.


Railway and road courses with FSCS Quality Label

The harmonisation and quality assurance of fire service training is one of the central tasks of the Fire Service Coordination Switzerland (FSCS). For this purpose, it relies, among other things, on the voluntary certification of training offers with the FSCS Quality Label. By the beginning of 2021, 27 courses throughout Switzerland had received this quality certificate. Among the applicants, the International Fire Academy is at the forefront with four courses.


Fire incident report of a lorry fire with dangerous goods in the Tauern road tunnel

On 28 November 2020, the Zederhaus fire service (A) was alerted to a lorry fire in the Tauern road tunnel. On-site, dangerous goods boards and a huge bang brought back bad memories of the major fire in May 1999. At that time, twelve people were killed. This time, however, the operation was far less dramatic than feared after the first shock. We spoke to the chief of the Zederhaus fire service and incident commander Harald Pfeifenberger.


Reconnaissance is always needed – but not always reconnaissance teams

In the initial phase of fire operations in underground transport system (UTS), there is often a shortage of personnel. That is why many participants ask us whether reconnaissance teams are really needed. Our answer: It depends on the situation. Reconnaissance teams are needed above all when vital information has to be obtained as quickly as possible.


Fire service of a pumped hydroelectric energy storage train in a training tunnel facility

The «heart» of pumped hydroelectric energy storage is located deep inside a mountain: In a cavern, pumps and turbines are installed in huge halls. The access tunnels are usually several hundred meters long. Individual company fire services have recognized the similarities between their facilities and other underground transport systems such as tunnels. They use the training infrastructure of the International Fire Academy in Lungern and their teachings for their preparation.